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[sticky post] Notes to Self about Writing Life

1. Just be yourself. Don't schmooze, don't obssess, don't get weird, don't get all theater. It's served you well, being yourself all this time. Stick with it.

2. Just write. Keep at it steadily, keep at it carefully. Do it conscientiously, do it to the best of your ability.

3. See number one again, especially when you feel insecure about number 2.

4. Believe you have a story to tell. Then don't put it off. Tell it.

5. Accept that some people will like your work, some people will not like your work, and that's okay. You write because you have a story to tell. It's nice if someone will read your story, but if they don't, well, not everyone in the world or even the Western hemisphere is going to read your story. And that is okay.

6. Writing can change the world, but is not the most important job anyone will ever have on the planet. You are not telling deep truths about the universe. You are telling a story. Get over yourself.

7. See number one and number three again, just in case you need a reality check. Never believe your own press.

8. Keep doing something you enjoy that keeps you in touch with people and makes you feel that you are making a contribution to the world, because you can turn into a mushroom if you're writing only. A strange, weird, psychologically fungal mushroom, I might add. And then you might drink.

9. Do not pass judgment on the writing of others. Do not compare your writing to the writing of others. You can have opinions about things you read, but unless you are asked, you might want to keep them to yourself, especially where other writers are concerned. Play nice.

10. Expect others to play nice with you. Avoid pseudo intellectuals and non constructive critics. Hell, you don't need them. You have your worst critic, yourself, to contend with already.

11. The industry is not the measure of your success. Attention is not the measure of your success. Of course you want to send your work out, make smart marketing decisions, and try to share. The measure of your success is stories written and sent. You can't convince the world it wants your work, but you certainly can't do anything at all unless you're telling stories.

12. Realize that success in writing, like success in anything, is really more about persistance than anything else. Write, learn to market selectively and well, and then market selectively and well. There will be a learning curve. You will battle obscurity. You will make mistakes and get rejections. BUT eventually you'll have enough circulating and people will know who you are, and you'll learn the tricks, and your writing will line up with someone's taste, and more and more things will be accepted.

13. See 1, 3, and 7 again, especially in moments of personal angst.

14. See 2 and 4 again, especially in moments of procrastination.

15. See 4, 5, 9, and 11 again, especially in moments where you lack faith.

16. See 5, 9, and 10 to remind yourself of grace.

17. See 6, 7 and 10 to remind yourself that you're not curing cancer.

18. See 8 to maintain your balance.

19. See 12 when you feel like giving it up.

20. If you're not satisified anymore, if it's causing you consternation, cease. Walk away. Writing is important. A happy life is much more important than that. Anything must give you joy for you to continue it. Don't settle.

The Power of Art

It's been a tough haul working on the writing these last few weeks. We are about a month out from the election and the hits just keep coming. Yet, I have managed to get another draft of my novel done. That was a stroke of luck, largely because the first draft looked better than I thought it did.

I have to say that the question has come to my constantly. Why do I want to write a melodramatic story about characters standing up in the face of odds during these awful times?

Well, perhaps I have answered my own question.

My parents were not the best moral compass for me as a kid. I credit a lot of novels for giving me moral compass. I learned how to behave, how to be noble and ethical from books. Many of the characters I admired stood up for what they believed in the face of adversity. Many of them defied impossible odds and triumphed. Some of them held their beliefs and lost, but maintained their integrity.

I know that people are flawed. Honestly, I know some fine, fine people. I don't honestly know how most of them will behave in New America. I like to think that I do, but I've lived through a school censorship in the early 90s, so I'm going into this with my eyes wide open. The majority of people, when the chips are down, are NOT Frodo or Katniss. I am not disillusioned, but let's say I'm not the believer in the nobility of humans that I was in the last century.

But chances are better that there will be those heroic stands if people see them modeled, both in real life and in ART. IN ART. What art did for me as a girl and as a young woman, I owe it to future readers to attempt. ESPECIALLY when life is not easy. Courage in the face of fear and uncertainty is NOT easy, but good examples always make it easiER.

I write Carlo Borgia because I want the world to believe one person can make a difference. I write Drusus Claudian because I want people to know ethics cannot be compromised. And I write Octavia Klaereon because I want people to know it is never too late to make amends for a bad past. (Looking at you, Glen Beck. 😛 )

So we can understand what is good and noble and right, even if it is not sanctioned by our political or social systems. And yes, we can get all relativistic about what is right and wrong, but you know what? Deep down, I expect you know what good civil liberties and human rights are. Anything that suppresses those, that's where we make our stand. That's where our characters do too.

I want you to get out there and ART. ART HARD. Give us all something to believe in and aspire to. So we can steel ourselves for what is ahead.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

New America

Hey.

Honest to God, I intend to talk about Taichi Keaton, but like many people, I was sidelined last week by the US voting Donald Trump as president. So, instead of moving forward with our first female president, we now have a president who in past political time frames would have been asked to step down. Sixteen women came forward about being molested, and he was elected. So, a bit of shock here, of course. White America, even white women, didn't care enough. Well. Well, indeed.

Once the final analysis came in, Clinton won the popular vote. The Electoral college gave voice to parts of the country that wanted something different than the diverse America that is naturally emerging. They sent the message, loud and clear, that they wanted to be in charge because...well, white people should be in charge. Should I have been surprised? No. Was I surprised? Yes.

Hate crime has gone up. It's like opening Pandora's box, giving the KKK and extremists a voice and a license to move forward. If only it were them, because Trump's election has seemed to give people I assumed didn't possess these -isms a chance to be MUCH more public about the -isms.

In my real life, I am a teacher of immigrants and refugees. Most of these folks are followers of Islam. They are real people, like you and me who also have hopes and dreams. They don't want to blow up your city hall or take your jobs. These people are my students and my responsibility. I have been busy trying to explain this turn of events to them. I have been busy trying to understand this turn of events myself.

Alternatingly, I have been distraught, angry, disgusted, and grief-stricken. I have a political list of to-dos each week. Make phone calls. Protest. Get some real news. Stay off Facebook and the silos there. Work hard and stand up for those who are now considered less than, more so than it has seemed for the last several years. This problem has always been there. I thought there were fewer of you than there were, racists. Misogynists. Homophobes. Forgive me if I don't celebrate you coming out of the closet.

And those of you who are getting back to "the new normal." Nice invocation of white privilege there. I can't do that. My responsibility as an American is to defend all of us. I like the constitution. I dig religious freedom. I like liberty and justice for all. Sorry you can't be bothered.

I know many of you feel the same as I do, and I know there is nothing we can do to change these results. But we can hold this new American accountable every inch of the way. I know we are not alone. I know conscientious legislators have our backs. Let's let them know we have theirs.

And for those of you who think I might be engaging in histrionics, that's really sexist, but hey, check back with me next year. I would be very happy to be wrong. I did, however, grow up abused by my family and bullied in a small town. I recognize this feeling. Only this time, I'm not a kid and I have people to protect. I'm going to leave you with my favorite bit of advice from that guy a lot of you pretend to worship. Jesus advises, "Love your neighbor as you would yourself." Would you like a swastika pinned to your door? Or a balloon full of pee thrown on you even though you are indigenous and were here first? Maybe you'd like a cross burned in your yard?

I am deeply, deeply disturbed. Next time, I'm gonna talk about why doing art in the new America Trumpland is more important than ever. See you in a couple of weeks.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

Fewer links for Unreliable Narrators? It's NaNoWriMo, and we're all diligently writing, so...we'll be back in a couple with some more stuff and NaNo updates.

Paradise Icon and NaNoWriMo

Revenant Harvest III: Lobbying 101 by Stephanie Vance

The Unreliable Narrators Watch...Chinese Ghost Story

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

This year, Bryon built a Day of the Dead display. The costume is the design for La Muerta from the Book of Life, which, if you haven't seen it, is a very good film, and it proves that Mexico is the center of the universe.

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Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

J.Kathleen Cheney New Short Fiction

You might remember J. Kathleen Cheney from several reviews on this blog, and a podcast over at Unreliable Narrators. Recently, she has decided to begin self-publishing on her own. She made an interesting decision to mostly self-publish, and I believe as a reader it's paying off.

I've been lucky enough to receive two of Cheney's recent publications. Whatever Else explores the boundaries of trust in a relationship. It is lyrical and beautiful rendered, typical of Cheney's romantic prose.

The revelation for me was Cheney's interconnected series of short stories collected in The Dragon's Child. An interesting mix of Russian and Chinese culture, the story is different in mood and tone from anything I've read of Cheney's yet, but it is still very good. I would recommend it if you would like your fantasy to be a bit more off the beaten path.

One of the benefits of writing novellas is that the writer can create faster, and Cheney's fans must be pleased with more available stories. I of course look forward to future novels, but encourage you to visit her website to check out her new offerings.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

Characters Who Breathe: Amy Dorrit

I didn't come across Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens until later in my life, I liked to read more Dickens than the average teen, but this was not a book I ran across until I saw the film that featured Derek Jacobi in the 1990s. Then I went and hunted down the book. The BBC recently did an adaption of the book that was more accurate, with excellent leads.

There are so many ways in which I identify with Amy Dorrit that I was bound to pick her as a character I felt was alive. I could also write a similar post about Arthur Clennam, the male lead in the book, as I grow older, but Amy's particular circumstances, while not an exact mirror of my own, bore enough similarities that I was riveted by her.

Amy grew up in a debtor's prison with an extremely dysfunctional family, one so rich that it had no idea how to be poor. Amy was born in the Marshallsea Prison and took care of them all, until, through the ouevres of a large Dickensian support cast, the family fortune was reacquired. Then Amy becomes an embarrassment to them all. Of course, in true Dickensian fashion, Amy is almost saintly as she takes care of her family, but there are these glimpses underneath of anger, exasperation, and confusion as she deals with a family who suddenly sees her many virtues as flaws. Unrequited love echoes through the novel as well, and Amy is made more interesting by the complex emotions she feels for the hero of the novel that she cannot realize, at first because she is in the lowest class, and then in the highest.

I would love to talk about Little Dorrit deep into the night with anyone. Such a good protrayal of some of the issues of its time is worth my time. That said, there are flaws. There's some deeply Dickensian...coincidence that dates the novel, so you want to watch out.

Full disclosure: Octavia and Lucia Klaereon are the mirror universe versions of Fanny and Amy Dorrit. The best work you read influences your writing.

Next up: Taichi Keaton

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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